Raiders roster: 5 position battles to watch during 2021 training camp
Cornerback – Casey Hayward vs Damon Arnette
The Las Vegas Raiders drafted Damon Arnette 19th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft and many critics panned the pick as yet another reach by Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock. Arnette gave the critics plenty to talk about in 2020, as he struggled through a rookie season where he was hampered by a lingering thumb injury, and COVID issues as well.
The former Ohio State star was unable to lift weights for the season due to his thumb injury, and he seemed overwhelmed at times by the complexity of the coverages at the NFL level. The lack of a true offseason hurt his progress and he has supposedly become an “afterthought” in the cornerback room thanks to a few key additions.
Casey Hayward is a veteran cornerback that spent the last 5 years with the Los Angeles Chargers and he is gunning for Arnette’s starting place opposite Trayvon Mullen. Hayward has played both outside and inside cornerback but has stated publicly that he wants to play on the boundaries for the Raiders.
His familiarity with Gus Bradley’s scheme, having spent several years in it, makes him an easy plug-and-play option for Las Vegas at any of the cornerback positions.
What Arnette has going for him is his youth and the fact that teams give first-round picks many more opportunities than a late-round selection. If he is unable to beat out Hayward, he can still get plenty of experience as an inside corner, or simply as a rotational player given the amount of turnover at the position.